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How to Get a Criminal Background Check

By I - Posted on 16 June 2011

Criminal background checks are valid for 6 months from the date they are issued, so whoever employs you will have to start the visa process at Korean immigration within this time frame.

As of January 1, 2011, all criminal record checks for teaching English in Korea must be at the federal level. This change in immigration law affects US and Canadian citizens -- statewide checks from the US and provincial checks from Canada are no longer accepted.

How to Get an FBI Check

If you are from the United States, you will need an FBI check. The FBI background check takes between 5 weeks and 3 months to process, so it's best to send out for this as soon as you can. You will have to get fingerprinted and mail in your prints along with the FBI background check application form. The cost for the check itself is $18 in addition to any cost associated with getting your fingerprints done.

If you will be getting your apostille through the Department of State, you should ask the FBI to authenticate your background check before they send it back to you. You can indicate this by writing something like "Foreign Visa, please authenticate for apostille" in the Reason for Request box at the bottom of the application form.

See our apostille page for information on how to get an apostille in the United States

How to Get a Criminal Record Check in Canada

If you are from Canada, you need to get a background check that clearly states the result was checked through the RCMP database. One kind, done through fingerprinting, takes several months to process. The other kind, done through a check on your name and date of birth, takes 1 day to a couple of weeks depending on where you are.

Both are accepted, so get the one done by name and date of birth to save time. You should contact your local police office for more information. Remember to make sure the background check clearly states that it was done at the federal level and/or is based on a check through the RCMP database.

See our apostille page for information on how to get consular authentication in Canada

How to Get a Criminal Record Check in the UK

If you are from the UK, you have two options. The shortest option is to get a basic disclosure through Disclosure Scotland, which takes about a week to process. Basic, standard and enhanced disclosures are all accepted by immigration, so most people just get the basic one.

The Disclosure Scotland website says you will need a standard or enhanced disclosure if you are working with children, but that is only if your job is in the UK. The purpose of the check is to get a visa and not necessarily to work with children, and Korean immigration accepts the basic disclosure.

If you get a disclosure, be sure to let them know that you need an apostille for it and ask that the head of Disclosure Scotland sign and stamp your form before sending it back to you - this will save you from having to get it notarized when you get your apostille.

You can also get a Subject Access check through your local police headquarters, but this takes up to 6 weeks. Contact your local police headquarters for more info about the Subject Access check.

See our apostille page for information on how to get an apostille in the UK

How to Get a Criminal Record Check in Australia

Criminal record checks in Australia are called National Police Checks and they are ordered through the Australian Federal Police. The cost is $43 and processing time is approximately 15 days from the day they receive your application. Note that you do not need to get fingerprints for your check.

See our apostille page for information on how to get an apostille in Australia

How to Get a Criminal Record Check in Ireland

In Ireland, criminal record checks are called a Police Certificate or a Certificate of Good Character and is issued by the Gardai. It can take about 3 weeks to process your background check and, unlike most countries, it's free in Ireland!

Police Certificates are ordered by writing to the Superintendent of where you live, or where you previously lived if you are no longer living in Ireland. Be sure to include the following in your letter:

  • Full name and maiden name if applicable
  • Date of birth and where you were born OR photocopy of your birth certificate
  • Current address and all previous address in Ireland
  • Why you need your Police Certificate (Obtain visa to work in South Korea)

Other documents to include are: